February 26, 2015

Saint John Paul the Great and the Universal Call to Holiness

According to Saint John Paul II, holiness isn’t simply one option among many; it is the essence of being Catholic. Living a holy life has little to do with perfection. It is a lifelong process of seeking God, through Christ. To be Catholic is to be called to holiness. Holiness can be summed up in one word – love. Christ calls his disciples to authentic love – love of God and love of neighbor.

Saying this is one thing. Living it is another. We might think that holiness is the stuff of priests and nuns. We might think of living a holier life as something we will do tomorrow or sometime in the future. This is wrong. Sacred Scripture tells us the time to be holy is now!

1. The spiritual journey is entirely dependent on God.

It is a gift God gives us. It is a grace. Going to Mass doesn’t make us holy. Neither does saying a million rosaries. God sustains us in life – in everything we do. We are entirely dependent on his mercy.

2. Our effort is necessary.

What we can do to place ourselves in the presence of Christ we should do. Daily prayer is essential. Reading the scriptures is another key that unlocks the doors to eternity. God loves us abundantly. God knows us completely. Everything we say and do should be a response to that Love.

3. There are painful dimensions to the path toward holiness.

We’re all familiar with the expression “no pain no gain.” Expelling sin from our lives can be difficult even painful. Expanding our hearts, minds, and souls takes work. Letting go of lesser cares and filling us up with God’s love can be a challenge. The temptation may be to put off the heavy lifting until later.

4. Despite its painful dimensions, the journey toward holiness is worth it.

To find the pearl of great price we must get rid of the junk in our lives. Many things can distract us from falling in love with God. Faithfulness means letting go of vanity, temptations and selfishness.  In the Gospels, a rich, young man asked Jesus how to gain eternal life.  Jesus told him to obey the commandments. The young man replied, “All of these I have observed. What do I lack?” Jesus said to him, “If you wish to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give it to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” Scripture records the young man went away sad - for he had many possessions. Everything in this world is passing away. Heaven, eternal beatitude, is a joy beyond our understanding – and it is forever. St. Paul testifies to this reality in 2 Corinthians Chapter 4; “For this momentary light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.” Whatever our difficulties, holiness is worth the journey.

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